The Benefits of the CUV

Crossovers allow people to step into a vehicle rather than step up or down. They offer an increasing range of models that can offer economy, off-road capability, sport performance and/or even luxury. Finally, crossovers offer the practicality of a sedan or hatchback with the ride height security of an SUV. Yes, crossovers offer a lot of pros, but I don’t like them simply because they are rarely attractive to look at. They typically have the appearance of a sedan that spends a lot of time at the gym but neglects a healthy diet. They look swollen and bulky. Sport and performance are the latest area which CUVs have invaded and started their own niche in the market.

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With all of that, I wanted to see if the 2019 Ford Edge ST could change my mind. Could this blue 335-horsepower Ford Edge with red brake calibers turn me into a believer in sports-oriented CUVs?

EXTERIOR

As I stated, for me it’s difficult to refer to a crossover as good looking. These are vehicles built with tall roof lines and a raised ride height; those features allow more space than a sedan, but it’s then difficult to make them look sleek and sexy. It’s the same case with the 2019 Ford Edge ST. It’s not a bad looking vehicle, but it did remind me of a Ford Focus RS that had been over-inflated. Or an athlete that stopped training but still eats like one.

 

The biggest visual appeal of the Ford Edge ST was the Ford Performance Blue paint, making it stand out in parking lots. A blacked-out grille and 21-inch painted aluminum wheels hugging a set of red ST brake calibers (a $2,695 option) offer clues to this being a special trim level. I’ve only seen one other Edge ST in public, and it was the same Performance blue as the model tested in this review.

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INTERIOR

When you consider that the 2019 Ford Edge starts at $29k and the ST trim level starts at $43K – the top trim level for the Edge – you start to read the brochure to find out exactly what all the money goes towards. Having said that, the interior in the 2019 Ford Edge ST is bland – like oatmeal without brown sugar or blueberries. Even the performance bucket seats had the ST label and Ford didn’t think to make them red, instead they are black and get lost in the sea of dark colored suede cloth interior.

 

The seats are very comfortable in the Edge ST, but apart from that you will search around looking for reasons to justify the added cost of getting an ST over the Titanium, SEL, or SE trim models. Panoramic Vista roof is an option that adds luxury, but living in South Texas heat makes me wonder when someone would actually have a use for driving while basking in direct sunlight. The 12-speaker B&O audio system did allow me to crank up the jams when I wanted to, so a good mark there.

FORD EDGE ST PERFORMANCE

The Edge ST is equipped with a 2.7 liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6, delivering 335 horsepower through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Edge ST can reach 60 mph in under 6 seconds – hot hatch territory. When putting your foot down on the Edge ST you do feel the sudden acceleration. This is thanks to Ford’s Intelligent All Wheel-Drive system; it allows the Edge ST to send power to the front wheels only during normal city driving. When you stand on the throttle the Edge ST will literally put its back into it by distributing power to the rear wheels and becoming AWD. It’s cool feeling the backend suddenly come alive and help push you long. However, there is torque steer on the Ford Edge ST for a moment before its power is sent to the back.

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The best way to explain the Edge ST’s speed? It performs like a police vehicle. Smooth yet firm acceleration gets you where you need to be, but don’t expect theatrics. This was the first vehicle I drove at 120mph and found myself thinking “I shouldn’t be bored right now.” The 2.7 EcoBoost does not make an exciting noise, nor does the vehicle feel like it was built with performance DNA. Because it needs to be a family car first, the Edge ST is a performance vehicle with adult responsibilities.

As a performance vehicle the Ford Edge ST has the power of a hot hatch, but it’s in a dad body. The Edge ST gets 22 mpg in the City and 29 mpg Highway, but I was averaging 18 mpg, admittedly with a heavy right foot. Starting price for the Ford Edge is $29K, and $43K for the entry ST trim level. With options the Ford Edge ST can climb up and over $50K, which is expensive considering the number of luxury crossovers the $50K (and over) market has to offer.

 

SAFETY

The main safety feature Ford has been pushing on the Edge ST is its Lane-Keeping system, which helps drivers stay in their lane while driving. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with stop-and-go technology is optional on all Ford Edge trim levels as a $796 package called Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist, but comes standard on the Edge ST. The 2019 Ford Edge ST also comes with knee airbags for front passengers and side airbags for passengers in the rear.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The ST trim level did not change my mind on sporty crossovers. It may have the performance, but it doesn’t feel like it – and that is a major issue for the sort of person interested in buying a fast CUV that can comfortably (and safely) seat five passengers. It simply lacks the drama of what the ST badge stands for. And its price point limits the Edge ST target market for people who would like the idea of a 300+ horsepower CUV with name recognition.

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The reason why other performance SUVs and CUVs work? It comes down to how they make you feel. A performance crossover should make you forget that you are driving a crossover. It should sound fast, not just be fast. It should have a bit of black sheep attitude in styling and interior design. It you want to sell a performance crossover, it needs more than just a great engine.